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September 6, 2011
Michael L. Coats, director of the Johnson Space Center, addresses a large turnout of well-wishers at the STS-116 crew return ceremony on the afternoon of Dec. 23 at Ellington Field. Coats congratulated and thanked the Space Shuttle Discovery astronauts, whose work on the International Space Station represented one of the most difficult mission tasks in NASA's history. Seated not far away from Coats on the stage were the seven astronauts who returned to Earth on Dec. 22 aboard the Discovery. They spent their first night back on Earth in Florida, near their Kennedy Space Center landing site.

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